SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals’ youth provided the spark on Saturday night.
The line of sophomore Josh MacDonald and rookies Marc Richard and Calum MacPherson staked the Caps to a 2-0 lead 6:21 into the first period, and they never looked back. The Caps would build period leads of 4-0 and 5-1 en route to a convincing 6-1 decision over the Amherst Ramblers, who are the host team for the 2019 Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian junior A hockey championship in May.
“We played a pretty strong game, especially the first period,” assessed Caps head coach Billy McGuigan. “I felt the Richard, MacDonald and MacPherson line was a very big part of our success.
“When you can roll four lines and everyone contributes, it’s an easy way to find wins.”
The win improved the Eastlink North Division-leading Caps’ record to 23-5-0 (won-lost-overtime losses). Summerside, which holds three games-in-hand, closed to within four points of the Yarmouth Mariners for first place in the 12-team league’s overall standings. Yarmouth lost 5-4 in overtime to the South Shore Lumberjacks (13-11-3) on Saturday.
Amherst, which is dealing with injuries, fell to 20-9-2.
“It was their third game in three nights, but we had everybody going,” said MacDonald in a post-game interview with the Journal Pioneer. “We are pretty tough to beat when everybody is onboard. . . There was a fire in our bellies (Saturday), and it felt good all around.”
Before 1,143 fans at Eastlink Arena, Brodie MacArthur scored twice while captain TJ Shea and Kallum Muirhead each collected three assists to lead the Caps offensively. MacDonald (1-1), Richard, Sullivan Sparkes and Cameron Roberts also scored while other helpers were credited to MacPherson, Sam Meisenheimer, Jesse Annear Conor MacEachern and Jacob Arsenault, who made his Caps’ debut. Arsenault, who is from Richmond, P.E.I., previously played with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“It is good to have (Arsenault), he played a solid game and is a great addition to our lineup,” said McGuigan.
MacDonald, in his sophomore season with the Caps, admitted strong performances like his line had Saturday night is great for boosting confidence.
“It gets the morale up, and everybody is enjoying themselves,” said the 17-year-old MacDonald, who is from Cornwall. “It feels great to be playing well and the team is doing well.”
Stephen Fox answered for the Ramblers, who trailed 4-0 after one period and 5-1 at the end of 40 minutes.
Winning goaltender Dominik Tmej turned aside 21 of 22 shots. Former Capital Matt Williams faced 37 shots in the Amherst goal.
The game’s three stars were:
1. Josh MacDonald (Caps), 2. Brodie MacArthur (Caps), 3. TJ Shea (Caps).